Three Tips to Focus the Art of Marketing a Festival Event

Many Australian independent artists are in the midst of festival season: Perth is half-way through its Fringe World festival, the Adelaide Fringe Festival begins approximately in three weeks, and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival commences in about two months.  What an exciting time!

I hope that by now many festival participants have begun cultivating ideas regarding marketing their event.  There are many ways to promote and inform audiences of your event, but where to begin?

Before embarking on your festival experience; even before diving into boosting social media posts, hiring a publicist or sending out emails to friend, family or subscribers; I’d like to offer three often overlooked marketing tips independent artists can use to focus a clear and simple marketing strategy for any festival event.

Read festival annual reports – Every year, festivals survey their audience members in order to collect data that will be used for an annual report.  This report highlights the turnout of the general festival experience, often including overall attendance numbers, a breakdown into audience demographics (age, profession, residency, etc.) and artist participation factors (number of participants, number of events, ticket sales revenue, etc.).  The kind of information that will be most helpful to an independent artist is the audience demographic breakdown.  Take note of the following information:

  1. The number of tickets sold throughout the festival
  2. The number of patrons who attended
  3. Residential information of patrons (locals VS regional, international or inter-state visitors)
  4. Occupation of patrons
  5. Number of artist participants and number of events

By breaking down these festival factors, an artist is able to identify how their event will cater to festival patrons.  Additionally, this kind of information will help an artist focus their efforts in executing a clear and thorough marketing strategy.

Research the venue’s audience breakdown – An artist has been assigned a venue ever since their festival application was approved.  More than likely, the venue is a space that has a regular attendance of patrons.  Familiarise yourself with the venue and its patrons.  Browse the venue website to inform yourself of previous and upcoming events.  Find out if the venue is active on social media.  If so, follow them closely to discover who they communicate with (their regulars) and how they communicate to the general public.  Additionally, initiate communication by sending an email to the venue management team: ask them questions about the space, their events and their regulars.  If they are active on social media, ask if they would be willing to share your Facebook event with their followers.  If you can, visit the venue on occasion to observe the crowd.  Your visit can also be a great opportunity to spark conversation with patrons and staff.

Focus on building a reputation – It is known that the first impression is the best impression to offer.  Build a strong reputation for yourself by creating an experience your audience will remember for a long time.  Think about ways you can make your audience feel welcomed to the space, appreciated and acknowledged for taking the time to see your work.  The emphasis should be on ways to encourage your audience to come back for more.  If you’ve created a caring, quality experience, most likely your audience will encourage others to attend your show too – word of mouth marketing sells more tickets than any other strategy!

These overlooked marketing tips can inspire, ignite and focus your festival event marketing campaign.  Most importantly these tips encourage creativity and fun, which in turn will make marketing and self-promotion feel a lot freer and easy.

Looking for assistance to devise a marketing strategy for your arts event?  Click HERE to book a FREE 30-minute consultation, and mention this article to receive 20% off any BCauseARTS marketing & audience development service.  Feel FREE, have FUN and get FOCUSED about marketing your arts practice today!

Ain’t Even Illness Stands in the Way of MICF Week Three! Highlights of My Experiences

I feel like it is tradition to experience during the third week of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival physical and mental obstacles. Overcoming these minor obstacles may be challenging but, like Wednesdays, getting over the hump ensures a smooth upcoming finish. This week, I found myself trying to recover from illness – a small cold inflicted on my immune system from a busy schedule and limited opportunities to sleep between work and entertainment. Regardless, I was able to see 11 more delightful performances showcased at MICF.

Tuesday, April 5th

Susie Youssef CHECK YOUSSEF BEFORE YOU WRECK YOUSSEF

A surprising an opening act! Telling tales of auditions gone awry! Susie Youssef used the MICF platform to remind her audience how versatile a comedienne she really is. Standing a mere 5 feet and some-odd-inches, Youssef is a sassy and ingenious improv warrior who captures every detail.

Thursday, April 7th

Steen Raskapoaulos YOU KNOW THE DRILL

Expect slick sketch comedy ranging from drill sergeants to retired doctors. Raskapoaulos presents a fast paced action packed show with lots of audience participation and call backs to earlier scenes throughout. A great example of sketch comedy that is spectacularly fun!

Friday, April 8th

Matt Stewart & Andy Matthews LOGISTICAL NIGHTMARE

When a sweet television gig up in Sydney beckons, you just can’t say no. But try coordinating with your comedy partner a time to write for an upcoming show it smells trouble. Matt and Andy did the best they could to put together a last-minute collaboration together for MICF; however, the proof was in the pudding. Their saving grace was showcasing their individual talents – Matt, a great conversationalist comedian; Andy a superb comedy writer.

Markus Birdman FAUSTUS

Paraphrasing a classic story like Faustus – a story about a man selling his soul to the devil in exchange for success – Birdman parallels his personal experiences (facing divorce, being a single dad, Britishisms) to that of the main character. Birdman ensures he enjoys being a comedian and will do it on his own terms.

Andy Matthews PLENTY

Proving to be a master storyteller, Andy Matthews presents one of his own fictional stories set to the background music of Mitch Berk. Those who enjoy stories like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy would dig Matthews’ science-fiction storytelling. Andy is an intellectual comedian who struggles

Saturday, April 9th

POLICE COPS

By starting their performance 15minutes late under a disingenuous excuse of a broken hand, Police Cops started on my bad side.   A parody of late 1970’s or early 1980’s cop television shows, Police Cops involved three young performers with bad accents, high levels of vanity and cheap jokers. It seemed that these guys are more talented as dancers than comedians as most of the staging and directing moved along creatively smooth. Overall, it was an insult to the audience.

YETI’S DEMON DIVE BAR

Come to MICF’s most raucous, quirky and delightful cabaret/variety show, Yeti’s Demon Dive Bar! An uproarious freakshow variety hour filled with quirky characters, original musical numbers and spontaneous audience interaction, Yeti’s characters are brought to life by the masterminds of  Jennifer Byrne and Victoria Falconer-Pritchard. These two obviously LOVE to play with their audience to ensure patrons get their monies worth; I can’t wait to see more from this high-energy comic duo!

Ben Russell and Xavier Michelides NO SHOW

As the audience walks into the space, two performers are found on stage preparing for their show though vocal and body warm ups. They then leap into a twisted story narrative of two performers on stage… in front of no audience. But the show must go on before one of them gets upset. Filled with laugh-out-loud zany antics, most memorable moment is the “clap” performance that breaks out into the song “Big Yellow Taxi.” For a late night show, this duo will revive you of your energy.

Sunday, April 10th

Tom Ballard BOUNDLESS PLAINS TO SHARE

Whoever said comedians only do funny. Well, I hate to inform ya but you are WRONG! And to prove it, do yourself a favour by seeing Tom Ballard’s Boundless Plains to Share. Smartly using a unique platform like MICF to raise awareness on the great immigration debate, Tom Ballard presents a most compelling argument that there is no easy way to solve the immigration problem, but there certainly is much we can do to promote change. Ballard’s presentation doesn’t sensationalise anything as he argues both sides of the spectrum; yet he is able to remind us that throughout Australia’s history we have not been upholding our national anthem’s lyrics.

Anne Edmonds THAT’S EDDOTAINMENT

Anne Edmonds is my kind of female comic! Her crass style of comedy is delightful! Setting her intentions to turning her audience into her new friends, she tells her raunchiest jokes first, to get them out of the way. Latecomers and unsettling punters be warned: Edmonds calls out every distraction from the audience as it happens. These distractions throw her off track from storytelling and she does not appreciate it!

Snort WITH FRIENDS

It’s the battle of all comic battles – honouring the traditional rivalry between Australia and New Zealand! New Zealand’s beloved improv troupe SNORT challenged Australia’s roaring Bear Pack to compete for the coveted title of best improv troupe in the Pacific waters. Who came out on top? EVERYONE! An ingenious showcase of talent, teamwork and creative rivalry it was a joy to watch these comics work together to creative such a beautiful supportive environment. Another battle is rumoured to be scheduled soon – be on the look out!

Review: Week Two of The Melbourne International Comedy Festival

My second week of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival brought more joy, more laughter, a wider range of performance styles and presented more opportunities for me to engage with talent after shows. Once again, I am summing up each of my experiences in 160 characters or less to give you some insight as to what you should book now before it sells out and what you can consider holding off from seeing until next year.

Wednesday, March 30th

Felicity Ward WHAT IF THERE IS NO TOILET?

Felicity Ward sets the stage on fire with high energy and a conversational approach to comedy. It’s like talking to your best girl friend, gossiping about life’s most embarrassing yet troublesome moments. One of the best female comediennes in the biz, Ward is a trail blazer for Australian comics!

Jonestown HAPPY CAMPERS

Going on an imaginary camping trip with scoutmasters Sara and Nick is a delightful demonstration of Jonestown’s comedic chemistry as a duo. Enhanced by audience participation where the scoutmasters protect you from going too far (remember, it’s only make-believe) Happy Campers is a fun, campy show for all ages.

Thursday, March 31st

Hamish Parkinson FLY OR DIE

Placing the comedy literally at the audience’s feet, Hamish Parkinson is a fearlessly absurd comedian that shows that he enjoys what he is doing. Like his title states, Fly or Die, Hamish presents a show that commands the audience to either jump into the act or be pushed. Oddly hilarious and incredibly clever!

BUTT KAPINSKI

Involve yourself in the art of storytelling with the gentle guide of Butt Kapinski. From the director of Red Bastard, (MICF 2014), Butt Kapinski asks its audience to pay homage to the genre Film Noir by representing the characters in the story and adding spontaneous hilarity throughout the plot. A unique and wonderous experience if you allow yourself to be open, be free and be involved

Michael Burgos THE EULOGY

For a break away from traditional stand-up or sketch comedy, EULOGY is a theatrical experience crossing multiple art-forms of dance, poetry, music and character impressions. Examining the quirky human behaviour during one of life’s gloomiest moments, EULOGY is MICF’s most endearing comedy event.

Friday, April 1st

DINOSAUR PARK (THE JURASSIC PARODY)

A tribute to the 1993 classic film, Jurassic Park, Dinosaur Park showcases it’s three talented performers re-enacting the film’s iconic scenes in sequence with low-budget imagination and innovation. Simple yet charming and funny, certainly satisfies one’s appetite for quality entertainment.

Rama Nicholas MARY WEATHER’S MONSTER

Shake up your MICF experience by traveling back in time to the late 1800s. Witness Mary Weather’s Monsters for its grand complex storytelling and character work. A theatrical period piece that shines as bright as it’s performer Ramas Nicholas!

Saturday, April 2nd

Dave Thornton SO ON AND SO FORTH

Generic, bland and a few original punchlines. Dave Thornton caters to those interested in traditional stand-up but without much individuality. #sorrynotsorry

Neal Portenza NEAL PORTENZA NEAL PORTENZA NEAL PORTENZA NEAL PORTENZA NEAL PORTENZA NEAL PORTENZA NEAL PORTENZA. TRACEY.

To sum up the genius creativity of Neal Portenza is to say ‘risking it all, literally, for a barrel of laughs!’ Fearless, off-the-cusp and entertaining at every moment, this show sucks in its audience and spits them out leaving them wanting more. Book your ticket(s) NOW!!!

Sunday, April 3rd

THE MIGHTY LITTLE PUPPET SHOW

Improv has its risky side – as discovered during a performance of The Mighty Little Puppet Show! Warning: though generally a very family-friendly show, The Ritas cannot control everything. Regardless, laughs filled the room!

Juan Vesuvius CALYPSO NIGHT: JUAN, TWO?

Combining DJ-ing skills with physical comedy antics, Juan Vasuvius presents an educational and odd-ball look at the art of mash-ups. For a good time, be prepared to laugh, learn about Caribbean Island history and music development and become a part of the antics.

For more information, or to book tickets to The Melbourne International Comedy Festival, visit www.comedyfestival.com.au.

Twelve Shows in the First Week of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Not Bad!

My first week of Melbourne’s International Comedy Festival was everything I was hoping it would be: busy, funny and anticipating more. I’ve seen some really great performances of all kinds of formats in various venues throughout the city amongst hundreds of audience members. In an attempt to get right to the point AND provide you with quality reviews of each comic, here is a look at my week at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in roughly 160 characters or less:

Wednesday, 23rd March:

Claire Healy A LITTLE TOO MUCH INFORMATION

In this quaint cabaret performance, Healy demonstrates how much she enjoys being a triple threat: a superb singer, songwriter and piano player. Filled with quirky songs, lyrics and facial expressions, A Little Too Much Information is Healy’s way of allowing her audience to quickly get to know her and vice versa. Be prepared to share! Because it’s fun!

Eileen Williams IRRELEVANT

A theatrical performance that reminds us how not too long ago the value of women was not relevant to a man’s society. Producing laughter from an uncomfortable state of being, IRRELEVANT reminds us how far we’ve come in te fight for equal influence but how much further there still is to come.

Gillian Cosgriff TO THE MOON AND BACK

Cosgriff combines pop-cabaret and comedy with space exploration and thoughts of marriage for a hilariously adorable comedic performance. Bonus: her on-stage costume change is brilliantly smooth and magical! Can’t wait to see more!

Thursday, March 24th

Victoria Healy THE VICK VAN DYKE SHOW

Hard not to like Healy – natural stage presence, down-to-earth comic. Comes with lanky limbs and great facial expressions. Personal fave, and a must see to know who next gen of Aussie comics are.

Mae Martin US

Nothing out of the ordinary from Mae Martin’s set, except her struggles to cope with an untimely bout of sickness. Truly professional, Martin delivers a smoothly structured performance that has broad appeal to many and contains a slightly political message. Filled with stories and anecdotes about her friends’ and family’s reaction to life situations Martin gains laughs by impersonating the people she loves.

Friday, March 25th

Igor Meerson HOU I LERNT INGLISH

Expecting secrets to Putin’s political agendas or insight into daily Russian life will leave you disappointed. Instead, Meerson stretches himself by performing his very first English set and has graciously brought it to Melbourne. This underdog wins with a humble performance and crackling observations about language barriers.!

Nish Kumar LONG WORD…LONG WORD…BLAH BLAH BLAH…I’M SO CLEVER

A hilarious critically acclaimed self-deprecating comedian who is cleverer than actual audience numbers give him credit! His clever point-of-view on life’s most trivial issues, like boasting strong opinions regarding the next Bond actor/songwriter, is a riot! Quality comedy at its best!

Saturday, March 26th

LESSONS WITH LUIS

Commitment to such comic character development leaves you wondering, Is this guy for real? If so, two words sum up this performance: utter genius! Lessons with Luis combines educational entertainment with simple and funny special effects. Brought me back to my childhood watching the American hit kids show, Pee Wee’s Playhouse.

Kate Dehnert SHABAMALAM

Dehnert gives her audience LOTS of energy. A set that is morphs from traditional stand up to a schizophrenic dialogue between two characters trapped inside Dehnert’s head, I later found out her performance is an homage to British TV show The Mighty Boosh. Good to keep in mind.

Laura Davis MARCO. POLO.

Returning as a winner of MICF’s 2015 Golden Gibbo Award, Davis makes sure not to let celebrity-ism get the best of her. Using a quirky set and costume choice where she covers her eyes and raises herself on a ladder, Davis moves around the stage without guidance in order to demonstrate her independence. Topically different from last year, but similarly clever in design. One to continually watch in the future!

Sunday, March 27th

Alice Fraser THE RESISTANCE

Endearing, wholesome and catchy original songs makes Fraser’s comedic set so likeable. Taught by people who surrounded her while growing up, she gives back by bringing the joy of laughter to many in her comedy.

Sam Simmons NOT A PEOPLE PERSON

Prop comic genius! A no-holds-barred comic master commands his stage, his audience and more in this raw, side-splitting comedic performance. Multi-award winning comic for a reason, but he doesn’t let the awards stifle his creativity.

Fun Facts About the Melbourne International Comedy Festival

This week marks the beginning of the 2016 Melbourne International Comedy Festival.  In honour of its 30th year celebration, I would like to present a top 10 list of interesting and fun facts. Did you know any of these interesting facts?  And feel free to add more in the comments below.

Top 10 Fun Facts about the Melbourne International Comedy Festival

  1. The Melbourne International Comedy Festival is the third largest comedy festival in the world behind the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Montreal’s Just for Laughs Festival.
  2. MICF started in 1987 by John Pinder, Barry Humphries and Peter Cook featuring 56 separate shows.
  3. Rod Quantock is the only comedian to perform at all 30 Melbourne International Comedy Festivals.
  4. This year, there are over 130 venues across Melbourne hosting performances during the festival.
  5. The average ticket price for a show at MCIF is $24
  6. The Melbourne Town Hall became the festival’s hub in 1990. In its early years, most performances occured at either the Fitzroy’s Universal Theatre and Melbourne’s historical Anthenaeum Theatre.
  7. In 2010, with an attendance of 508,000 and earning a revenue of AUD$10.9 million the Melbourne International Comedy Festival was ranked as Australia’s largest cultural event.
  8. MICF has a strong reputation amongst comedians/performers as a festival where playing is encouraged. British journalist, Simon Fanshawe says, “ [MICF is] the most relaxed, least fevered and probably the most audience friendly of all the festivals.”
  9. Australian comedian, Josh Thomas is the youngest winner at the age of 17 to have won the MICF Raw Comedy Competition in 2005.
  10. Since 1988, cartoonist Michael Leunig has designed the artwork for the festival program and other advertising materials.

Wishing all the talent involved in MICF a great run! Looking forward to seeing some great acts.

For more information about the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, or to purchase tickets please visit www.comedyfestival.com.au.

Upcoming Opportunities to Support Independent Artists

Did you know there are some AMAZING opportunities to support independent Australian artists currently going on? To send you some inspiration on what to do this week and beyond, here’s a breakdown of what I am looking forward to:

Tuesday, 8th March: Continuing the Festival of Light and Art, Theatre Works, Black Hole Theatre and Duda Pavia Company present an Australian premier of BLIND. This solo work from internationally renowned dancer/puppeteer Duda Pavia showcases a rich theatrical tapestry of a dance, puppetry, audience interaction, sound and light creating a funny, moving and powerful performance. BLIND sheds light on childhood experiences of a young boy suffering an undiagnosed debilitating illness that renders him temporarily blind, and surprising discoveries throughout his search for healing.

Thursday thru Monday, 10th – 14th March: In its final weekend of performances, the Adelaide Fringe Festival has been bringing life to the small town for the past three weeks. During my first visit, I have packed my weekend to see three to four performances a night including theatre, cabaret, comedy, circus, and magic. During the light hours, I will be making my way to visiting visual exhibitions and participating in interactive events. Look out for reviews from all performances and events next week!

23rd March – 17th April: the Melbourne International Comedy Festival celebrates its 30th birthday by bringing
national and international comedians/comediennes together for a full three-weeks of golden entertainment. As one of the three largest festivals in Australia, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival keeps on expanding, and this year is no exception. With new venues, more late-night performances and comedy catered to anyone’s taste the festival will surely be a banging 30th birthday bash! Have you picked up your copy of the program yet? If not, get on it and start highlighting the shows that intrigue you!

So don’t wait! With so many opportunities to support Australian independent artists, I would hate for you to miss out. These artists look forward to entertaining you!

For more information about the Festival of Light and Art, visit www.fola.com.au.

For more information, or to purchase tickets to BLIND, visit www.theatreworks.org.au.

For more information, or to book tickets to the Adelaide Fringe Festival, visit www.adelaidefringefestival.com.au.

For more information, or to browse the Melbourne International Comedy Festival program, visit www.comedyfestival.com.au.